Thursday, March 24, 2011

A tale of when I learned that Just Enough is MORE than enough

For the major most part I love living a frugal life.
I grew up in a frugal family. And I must now admit that I didn’t always enjoy it- there were times I chafed at our frugal lifestyle. We didn’t go to Disney World and at the time I saw that as a bummer (but we did go on family vacations to other places which now hold dear fond memories in my heart) and we shopped for a lot of our clothing second hand- which seemed to me as a teen in the 80’s to be absolutely “not done” … none of the cool kids shopped at Goodwill.
Good thing I got over that.
I finally came to the realization that I liked saving my money for what I considered “better things” than I did spending it on looking “in”. I was a junior in high school at the time and a pivotal time to be learning such a great life lesson. I distinctly remember that summer before my junior year when we went clothes shopping. I had saved up what I considered to be a nice chunk of change and was all set to purchase my very own pair of totally in style Guess Jeans. I knew they cost $50 and I was prepared to pay it. I so badly wanted that triangle label on my bum. But when it came right down to it… my mother and her tightwad family genes got in the way. She didn’t tell me I couldn’t buy the jeans, she just pointed out that I could buy two pairs of JC Penny jeans and two tops for the same price as one pair of triangleonthebum jeans. I looked at those two twenties and a ten and I looked at those jeans I had long desired and I looked at the alternatives and I….
bought the JC Penny jeans and tops and never looked back.
That was my defining frugal moment.
The tides turned.
Saving money and getting “more bang for my buck” became more important than fitting “in”.
Seeings how that was 20 years ago and I look at me now…. And believe I’m living a wonderful cup-overflowing good life filled with love and family and friends and fun… oh so much fun… wonderful friends that don’t check the label of my jeans or the tag on my purse… but instead share with me their frugal finds and joy in my own thrifty accomplishments… friends that know what it’s like to be pinching pennies, living pay check to pay check, fighting to get out of debt and stay out,  praying that the car can make it another year or three and creating birthday parties with homemade cake and nothing catered but still living great fulfilling lives creating beautiful homes from second hand cast offs and generally giving their kids great memories of family life well lived.
This is the reality that surrounds me and I like it.
I identify with the Widow of Zarephath from 1 Kings… she was at the very end of all she had- a handful of flour in a jar and a little of olive oil in a jug- getting ready to use it to make the last meal for her and her son before they died. Yet she stepped out on faith, trusted God and shared what she thought was the last loaf of bread she’d ever make with the prophet Elijah. She found her resources miraculously stretched- her jar of flour was not used up and her jug of oil never ran dry.
I happened to get a new perspective on this widow three years ago- when I was led to read the passage during an extreme financial distress in my life. I got what was happening… her flour and oil never ran out but neither was the jar or jug full to overflowing. She always had just enough. God didn’t give her more than enough for each day- He gave her just enough.
To some God gives financial wealth that overflows and to others He gives just enough. When I pondered on this some more I realized my own heart and mindset and that I was the one of those people who needed to be a “just enough” daily person.
The key- is needed to be.
Confusing? I know myself and I know the financial entanglement I had led my family into with money. I am a person who cannot have excess because I will live a life of excess. God opened my eyes to see His provisions- that He provides again and again for my family with just enough.
And Just Enough is more than good enough for me.
If you are not faithful in small matters how can you be trusted with greater responsibilities?
Another thing I realized at that time was that all that we have belongs to the Lord- not just the tenth/tithe but all of it belongs to Him. My money, my home, my time, my stuff… His. And I’m accountable for my stewardship of it. How its used, how its spent…
Mr. Steady and I desire to be good stewards… to have Him say something like this from Matthew 25:21
 “The master was full of praise. 
‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. 
You have been faithful in handling this small
amount, so now I will give you many more
responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!

And so I more deeply embraced a more frugal lifestyle.
I started accounting for every penny I spent shopping and Mr. Steady and I found the leaks that needed plugging. We created a budget that would allow us to pay back our debts and live within our means. It has not always been easy to stick to this budget and there have been times we have wanted to do or spend and have not been able to…
And yet there have been more “other times” when God has provided for our needs again and again. Like the yard sale that my mom and I had a few years ago- that on the day it started our car died. We knew the car needed some work and had set some money aside- the yard sale money was going towards a family vacation- that was until the car broke down. But wouldn’t you know it- between what we’d saved and what we earned at the sale- we had enough to pay for the repair with $2-5 to spare. We thought we were saving for vacation- God knew we were doing it for the car. Another time it was much more simple, but no less profound- the girls needed new some new clothes and on the list was a white T-shirt for each of them needed for a special church scouting trip. I could afford the other needed items on the list but not the shirts. I almost bought the shirts anyway but instead felt that nudge to trust and knowing it would have pushed me over budget, I set the shirts aside with a prayer on my heart. The next day, the VERY next day, my mom stops with a bag of clothes she’d bought for the girls at Goodwill. As I was going through the bag… you know what I found. Two brand new, tags-still-on white T-shirts. I asked my mom if I’d told her I needed the shirts and she said no, but that they were such a good deal she picked them up anyway. I cried.
Yes, I cried over two white T-shirts that probably cost my mom less than $5 but were ohsovery priceless to me.
Just Enough.
Again and again and again- He provides Just Enough for me and mine.
And so while I dream of being able to go to the grocery store and buy whatever my heart desires without a care or concern for the bottom line, I have learned to be quite content with Just Enough.
In fact- Just Enough has grown me considerably more than I’d ever have expected.
And continues to grow me.
And that is MORE than Enough.

3 comments:

  1. I worry about the price of food all the time. I also try to put back for what may be ahead of us,but will be so pleased if the lord provides just enough. I enjoyed your post very much.Blessings jane

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  2. I needed to read this post... so much that I am in tears reading it, will print it out and place it in the front of my financial binder in order to reread it everytime I go to pay bills or spend money... Thank you for sharing this.

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  3. Oh, Ladies- I so hear you. Thank you for your kind words. We all need to support each other as we work hard to make ends meet and our attitude to be one of gratitude whether those ends are close together or far apart!
    Viva La Frugal!

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